This was a surprise of a book. Once I picked this up, strangely Rune became a very interesting character to read through. Since her gift is also her crutch at the same time, the only reason why she was accepted with a deeper meaning revealed towards the end. And the explanation regarding her entire background, felt so historical and at the same time interesting. 

While this retelling plays around with a phantom hundred of years after, which I greatly liked. Since it deals with all the creepy weird things which to me worked perfectly here. And that Thorn is mysterious, twisted but mysterious. And that I liked that the romance went slow, to them slowly meeting, slowly figuring everything out about them. And all the clues. Since I wouldn’t see them meeting under normal circumstances, 

As for the actual phantom and what he did, such as having Christine for a short period. Actually liking the way it went, where everything didn’t end well for them. And it drove him into further obsession, which I liked the way it was. Even pushing him to get Thorn. 

As for the musical inclination, any book would have gotten into me with just that. It just feels so right, and when her gift both suffocates and glorifies her at the same time. I really enjoyed it, the way that there was so much of exploration of opera. Of music and of her talent. As for the reveal towards the end, I feel that it was rather fitting to have regarding her talents. 

Even more so, her doubts are completely believable. The way that she her father died, the way she nearly killed someone. That was believable in my account that she would stop playing. 

However, I do feel that the issues of this book lies on the fact that his mother feels as though she’s a sex worker just because she had a child out of wedlock. That’s just wrong, really. It feels off. While the romance was on point, and the atmosphere captured me, this just doesn’t sound good at all. Also, where Erik takes him to the whorehouse and forces him to do all that. Yeah, I feel that it’s wrong too. 

Overall, I would say this book is creepy and rather gothic. Precisely the retelling of the Phantom of the Opera I was looking for, but there are issues that cannot be ignored. I would say that the romance captivated me, and the music was the one thing that kept me reading. So, pick it up and just see it for yourself. 

Rating: 3 out of 5


The Forbidden Wish 

I would say that it lives up as a retelling. Except that it explores the story from another perspective, and instead of getting the jinni we see in Aladdin. It is instead, about the female jinni. 

And all the while, I really enjoyed the way the world was structured and explored. The myths and folklores, some of which Zahra had a hand in it herself. All the more, it was about the forbidden wish. Exploring a possibility, what would happen when a jinni could be set free. 

The ending nicely ends everything. All the while the twists are revealed nicely, and at the right moment. Whether is it about the jinni or about the world as it stands. 

To also being able Zahra and how badly she wants to be free. I mean, it’s logical since you have been locked into a lamp for a very long time(three thousand years.) 

All the while, the princess managed to keep my attention as did Aladdin. Both wanted something, the princess would have done anything for her kingdom. That is what I call a future Queen. And she didn’t find having to marry a horrible man that terrible a price as long as it remained safe. As for Aladdin where he initially wants revenge, he initially wants to marry a princess. Then eventually, becomes in love with the jinni. It is so gradual, and so subtle. Even with very little declarations when they decide to sacrifice themselves for each other, it feels strangely logical. That Aladdin was willing to pay the price for Zahra’s freedom, and she in his stead willing to help him many times. 

And so, I would say that the characters who are introduced eventually had a larger role to play. Such as the jinni who was captured, to the vizier and Darian. All of them had a role, and eventually were rather well developed. 

This novel isn’t just made up of Aladdin and Zahra, it had other characters who shone. And everything had a consequence and a price, all of it coming back. 

So, I would recommend this to those who have longed for retelling. And at the same time, is a really good piece of work with a good balance between the characters and the plot.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

Clearly not what I expected, and quite underwhelming. After two great books from this author, this was meh. I didn’t have that melodramatic atmosphere which I lawyer experienced with her books, and the romance itself was quite intriguing. 

I do admit that it is more interesting with how she took Romeo and Juliet and spinned together such a tale of necromancers, clans fighting for power in the only living city in the world. 

To me, Runajo, had been a rather interesting character. Juliet barely had any personality in my opnion, but I could see why she loved Romeo above all else. Let’s face it, he’s the only decent guy among her many kinsmen, and they are not the brightest either. 

Paris, he was okay. Though he not being in love with Juliet was what I got here, and well I understand too. It is much less of the tragic romance, but more of the dark magic and reality it is. Runajo, had been what made me interested, she had been what really carried the story really.

Romeo, and Paris didn’t interest me as much, but Runajo had the most development, even more than Juliet, who frankly is a flat character and shape little nuances. Runajo despite trying to make herself ruthless, has a heart deep beneath which interested me quite a not in her character. And her chapters, had been the most exciting for me. 

Although, I do admit that it was quite a letdown on my part. But there are still points where I believe is a step away from her usual melodrama and romance, and creating something else here which do have much for improvement but also some enjoyable characters and scenes. 

So, I would think that you should read this with a fresh mind. I was disappointed but also liked some characters at the same time, and for once this wouldn’t end like most, with a sequel to come, which I would still look forward to. 

Rating: 3 out of 5


Barefoot On The Wind 

A retelling that I recommend. In fact, almost any retelling I would recommend from this author. She makes it a completely different story but still decent, and one that you will enjoy with her careful research, her descriptions and her characters.

Hana, one again I could feel her struggle. She is still blaming herself for her father’s death and did everything for it, such as taking on all the roles regardless of gender. Which to me is a sign of strength, you don’t find her complaining or even loathing her father for it. She is just doing all she can for the family, which to me felt connectable with the traditions and expectations. 

As for Itsuki, I do admit that this was actually someone that managed to find his own mistakes. Even if he didn’t do anything to prevent it, and really reflected about his own deeds. And he’s a male character that had done wrong and admitted it, and at least saw where he went wrong in. Also he shared some points with the original beast in beauty and the beast. Both were arrogant and felt entitled. 

As for the yuki-onna. I do like the curse that she laid upon them, her anger all she felt was realistic to me. And I might be thinking about the snow queen, seeing as how they are basically equivalents though I wonder whether the author might head in that direction next. After all, all her retellings have been on point and taking a twist with the actual characters. Hana is not a beauty, but she is a strong and self-reliant young woman although she did not read as much as Belle did. 

As for the retelling, the villagers are the servants of the house, all cursed upon with them just that they tend to be more cowardly. And the curse itself, laid by Oyuki can be quite similar to what the Beast he himself had done. Although the snow maiden and a witch is quite far apart. 

But I did enjoy the slow pace as it allowed me to grasp on Hana, and the story being a lot more on her development since she runs most of the changes. What happens later with her and the villagers have to be one of the best quotes in the book so far yet. As well as with Oyuki. And her goal to save her father from her own family. That had been what she had done as well. 

As for the ending, it is perfect. Tied up all loose holes and left everything as it is. But not without a nice ending that I enjoyed. 

Overall, I recommend this to those who have been fascinated with Japanese culture and always have been frustrated with the inaccuracies of certain books. And also, those who love retellings and want to see a feminist character that doesn’t whine to you about her life. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


The Steep And Thorny Way 

I really liked this books, for its themes which are handled well. To the mystery itself which is rather difficult to solve, and has a really important part in conveying the theme. 

Having a biracial character here, and her narration was perfect. Simplistic but not too difficult and all the while. 

The character was absolutely well done. I really could see that this was a strong character, she goes through a lot of development here. And decides to fight it through ways that she can, by choosing to change the situation rather than just getting back. 

And her father’s death, which was something suspicious and itself had been interesting with a lot of turns. And I’m still surpised how the author managed to intertwine so much of actual history into it. The whole setting may be horrible, and bleak, but it’s a great portrayal of it that spares no reader, and most importantly makes us thankful for the times we live in now. 

Especially knowing that you can be sterilized just because of your skin colour or your orientation. 

The entire situation was the best thing about the book and how it can cause a man’s death. It is a bleak future, but Hanalee still believes she can change it. And I really admire her for that, and all the more makes her a relatable character when she makes mistakes and assumed her father’s killer to what is reality. I accepted it, really and when everything came crashing down, I hoped that she would come out alive in this. 

As for the other characters many of them stood out. There is almost no romance here. Even the main male character isn’t interested in dating Hanalee, he’s more likely to date a guy instead. And I like the story for being about a biracial girl who wants to know the truth of her father’s death, only to find a really really insane cult against her, and one who wants to “purify” Oregon. 

I really really enjoyed this book, for it focusing more on the difficult issues rather than just romance. And it’s something you should pick up for a realistic portrayal of America in 1920s. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 


The Star Touched Queen 

I have been pretty ambivalent about this book, since the earlier part I did sort of enjoy despite having some pretty glaring issues with it. 

Particularly about feminity here, where the main character happens to be the only good female character around. And the rest are either dead or evil. And her best friend just so happens to be a female …horse. Yes, horse. I have no idea why can’t there be another character who is strong apart from her. 

As for the plot, I was mostly bored by it. And that at the front with Maya’s utter distrust of Amar had been completely believable, but then it becomes rather ridiculous in fact. Their relationship intially had started out well before it became rather shaky, where it was still believable until it came out of an utter stranger and she believed him over the guy she spent more days with him. Which was still ridiculous. 

Afterwords, I had been more or less bored as well. Seeing Maya trying to figure out her way and eventually having almost no goal and even drive for most of the book. The entire world between them although fascinating but Maya has almost no agency at all, and really lacks any depth beneath that. 

Same for Amar, he barely almost had any depth at all apart from being mysterious. And really lacked in any way possible to charming, choosing to give an offer for o girl he just met to be his queen and asking for her trust doesn’t strike me as such. And he just takes her like that. 

So, I’m more or less unable to rate it quite high, since it has some issues that is evident here. Overall I can’t really recommend this since it’s a rather bland and dull read. 
Rating: 2 out of 5 



This was one massive book, but still didn’t take me a long time to read it. If there’s one thing I really enjoy about this series is that it’s really enjoyable. Though this book lacked a little bit of the comedy factor which made me laugh out loud many times previously. 

But with the newest addition which is Winter, who is no doubt a rather interesting character. She chose to not use her abilities which is the main reason for her insanity, but I still liked her. But she never really felt emotionally unstable or even having really strange hallucinations often to me, just some mutterings. Really, Levana is psychotic for trying to kill her when she could have been far worse. 

As for the fairytale similarities here is rather alike, with enough to remind me that this is a retelling yet more than that. With the plot still having characters which mirror such as the way Levana chose to have Selene die, the same way she became disfigured. 

And ending wise, I enjoyed it really really enjoyed it. Personally, my favourite had been Thorne’s own way of trying to be a decent man to actually try to earn Cress which is the best way to go. He doesn’t seek redemption but rather earns it, and proves himself. That is really a good example of a guy. 

The rest didn’t really stick with me nearly as much. Perhaps it’s just that with Kai and Cinder, they seem kinda perfect already, there isn’t really much of anything left. But I did really like the part about her wanting to dissolve the monarchy, seems that she has the ability to guess that eventually this would happen again. 

As for the plot here, at the cost of witty moments there were far more serious ones where their lives were truly in danger. Where they could have died and everything. I really cared about them and the tension was incredibly high despite it all. But there were many moments where I were more or less distanced from the book since this is by far the longest book I have picked up. 

As for their relationship, they have one hell of one. It was really a good kind of friendship, having trust as well as differences yet none were ever cast aside. That is a good friendship and all of them really contributed and none were just there to make the numbers, and by far I really really liked this kind of sisterhood which I rarely see anymore. 

Overall, this was a satisfying conclusion to the entire series. And the length was far longer than I thought and took me three times the time to finish it, but nonetheless I still enjoyed it and found it well done. The only thing that I felt it lacked was scenes which made me laugh which I think was more or less important to try and really take me in, but still enjoyable nonetheless. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5